Oliver Stone brings his undeniable talent to this biopic of George `Dubya' Bush.. supported by one of those to-die-for casts he seems to have at his beck and call. There's no question this is slickly put together, and that Josh Brolin is completely convincing as the title character .... but as a movie experience there is just something missing.
Stone presents Bush as a follower rather than a leader. Someone who is driven by being under the shadow of his brother in his parents eyes, and whose political drive to succeed is a mirror of his drive to succeed in his father's eyes. Surrounding him, we have a veritable who's who of Hollywood acting as all the well known string pullers behind him and around him - most of whom are thinly drawn, not being the centre of attention - but of all of them, Richard Dreyfuss does a surprisingly good job of fleshing out Dick Cheney. There's a little jolt of energy whenever he has a moment on screen, particularly sparring with Colin Powell. But these are asides, with W's evolving character being the focus, and so as the movie goes on, we see Bush at different times of his life. From College pranks through trying to find a job he wants to keep, meeting Laura, becoming born again (watch out for a great Stacey Keach turn) and starting his political career.. all told non linearly, interspersed with the period of time that will dominate his place in history - going to war with Iraq.
With all those fine ingredients however, it seems that something has been left out - some excitement, some dramatic hook to draw you in. Frankly, Bush's life, rather like his presidency some would argue, is rather dull. In the end, the enjoyment of the movie is in the details.. enjoying watching for Hollywood well known faces playing political well known faces, learning a little about Dubya's earlier life. But we don't come away much richer for the experience. Stone's interpretation of the man is valid, but never feels insightful enough or definitive, neither does it have the cinematic or dramatic energy of, say, `Nixon'. It's not a disaster, but neither does it sparkle. Sometimes interesting, never fascinating. Perhaps it is too soon, and looking back in twenty years or more this will be regarded in higher esteem.
`W' follows George W Bush's path to the Whitehouse and when there, the path to war with Iraq. He comes across as a spoilt, rich boy desperately seeking his fathers approval and who slowly starts to believe his own hype and propaganda. This film shows how much influence Cheney actually had and also how much Karl Rove manipulated and lead Bush throughout his political career. The war is shown to be about oil and imperialist ambition and although Bush believed in what he was doing, he is shown to be misguided and flawed in his world view. This film is well directed with excellent performances from both Brolin and Dreyfuss. Thandie Newton, on the other hand, was terrible, her accent and overall acting is very wooden and lacks any skill whatsoever. Bush comes across as a very religious man and ultimately he let his religion influence his politics, to the detriment of world political stability and this film shows that aspect very well. This isn't the most flattered bio-pic of George W Bush but it does give a deeper understanding of his character, even if it does reinforce your negative opinions of him and his deeply flawed administration. Worth a viewing.
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on 31 December 2008
I give this DVD a three star rating.
I have read some things about George Bush and his early career prior to watching this film, and it was interesting how the film focused on certain things rather than others. It was also interesting the film came out whilst he is still in office thus limited somewhat how much criticism can be lobbyed towards him.
The primary focus of the film suggests that George Bush Jnr was a bit of a waste of time in his early years with a history of quitting jobs and not amounting to very much, much to the chargrin of his father, the formidable George Snr. The film charts the rise through the political ranks that George took, and largely shows a fortunate Bush with well placed allies allowing him becoming president. There is a strong cinematic emphasis on the relationship between Dubya and his father. There is excellent acting throughout from all the characters. The actors who play Condaleeza Rice, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and others are all worth commending.
Criticisms that I have are that two or three of the most well-known parts of Bushes presidential career are missed out of the film completely. It would have been good to see Bush responding to when Al Gore was declared the winner of the 2000 election, it is well-known that he called Gore and congratulated him. His campaign against John Kerry is also omitted. Also, the infamous moment where he was informed of the 9/11 attacks, those interpretations were missed out entirely, although a board meeting regarding the attacks and the decision to go to war with Iraq are covered at great length.
From a viewing perspective, this is an enjoyable movie to watch, although not quite the comedy I expected. The viewer may love it, or like me feel there was a little further they could, and perhaps should have gone with it - which perhaps they would have done if Obama was in office and they waited before making the film. Overall, it shows Bush to be a good-hearted if slightly vague character.
on 29 March 2009
W (DVD) 2008 raises a number of questions. The task of reviewing is a little harder for me due to nature of movie. George W Bush term at office was one of the most controversial reigns at the White House. The path to George W Bush becoming 43rd president is really interesting to explore. Direct comparisons can be drawn towards Nixon, who resigned as president due to the much publicised scandal that forced the situation. Nixon was similar to Bush in many respects. We learn great deal about the ex-president as an individual.
A few of facts are correct and well researched. I remember watching a few press conferences featuring Bush and at times he cannot handle criticism by admitting to mistakes, particularly the Iraq war. One journalist did ask "What is the biggest mistake you have made?". He remained speechless and that moment is shown in the movie.
I find the journey to the earlier days in Texas of Bush fascinating and interesting as it portrays Bush as a drunken, loud and loser in life, as he lacks the sticking power in jobs. Politics was never his first love. The father gave Bush JNR a good kick in the backside and this did the trick in Bush realising true ambitions in life. The movie runs parallel, as it switches between current days and past history of Bush. The father legacy is well touched upon about George Senior Bush and how the son followed the footsteps of his father.
My main issues raised in the movie: To what extent the facts presented reveal the truth and complete picture? Does the movie provide an accurate and complete portrait? It does to a certain degree. Significant parts of Bush's life are still missing. There is hardly much mention of the publicised friendship with ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair and any focus on marriage life. A few of the politicians seemed to be ignored like Condolezza Rice, who had an important role during the Bush administration. I can appreciate it is not possible to feature every aspect of Bush life into the movie, but on the other hand the movie should not be condensed.
The acting cannot be faulted, as every cast provide their best shot. The authenticity with the sets and footage received full praise from me. Overall, W is not an easy movie to judge. I will award the movie three stars, as I feel it is a fair reflection. The movie ends abruptly without exploring further avenues including Bush unpopularity with the public and international relations.
W" is Oliver Stones masterpiece. You may not think it, but it is. Stone is known for taking his subject and bludgeoning it in the back alley with a Truth Hammer. Recently, though, after historical epics and his Vietnam exorcisms, as well as his obsession with American presidents, Stone tackles the most controversial subject yet.
You might expect a blunt blunderbuss of a movie with a Make Up Gun set to "Whore". But W is something far more than that. You might expect a rampaging damnation of a mispresident who misunderestimated the times and made colossal errors of judgement and arrogance.
Instead W is a small, relatively subtle film. It isn't a comedy, or a damnation, and it isn't aimed at anyone, neither offending nor agreeing. Instead what it is a character study based upon a public image. The most important question it asks is not "How did this guy screw up so bad?", but "How did this guy become president?"
Ultimaely it's a tragedy ; about a man who found himself in a position far beyond his capabilities, unafraid to break every rule where the ends justify the means, and surrounded - one might say even directed - by his aides until he became a bare mouthpiece. Even though he says at one point "I'm the decider", all he decides is who gets to push him around.
And the tragedy is not for "W", who gets to succeed the ambitions of the rest of his family, but for everyone else who gets to live in a world he shaped. A lazy, and workshy sarcastic and insensitive drunk who uses God as a crutch to become President. What is frightening is that this is probably beyond parody. It would be unlikely this would be seen as plausable were it a work of fiction, and the terrifying thing is that less than 100 days ago, this man had the codes to launch the missles.
Having lived the times of the film, as indeed many of us have, it is odd to see our memories being remade as fiction. There are well known quotes from Bush himself that pop up with far less viciousness or frequency than you might expect, but in strange places. All the classic howlers are there, but in new and strange contexts.
From a film point of view : the cast and performances are stunning. Not exact embodiments (the Tony Blair is brief, and resembles some kind of vague underling who never carries the authority of office). The editing is non-linear, following a thematic exploring of parts of Bush's personality, and Josh Brolin simply is George Bush. Same with most of the rest of the cast. They are obvious not the people themselves, but as a representation of spirit, they become the characters.
Ultimately this is a sympathetic film about a man so far out his depth he doesn't even realise how far out he is. And the message of the film, if there is one, is that when Bush went out of his depth, he dragged us all down with him, and the tragedy is not the mistakes he made, but the mistakes of the system that allowed him to rise to the top. A subtle, unjudgemental film about a man beyond his abilities and a nation dragged behind his wake.
on 8 February 2009
Although a noble effort I thought the film a tad too long and focused too much on his relationship with his father at the expense of including more on some of the key defining moments in the 8 years W was President (the contested 2000 election for instance was just skipped over). I was also expecting a little bit more 'insider knowledge' on some of the decision-making that went on at the WH during this time. Some of this, such as the scene in the 'war room' was just a little bit too neat. We know this stuff - show us wnat we don't know! For example the dynamics and interplay of the chief protagonists in the WH could have been given more realism.
In short I would have liked to see the film be as creative and surprising in how it dealt with the later policital life of W as it was on his earlier personal life. Excellent as many of the 'biographical' scenes were, this created a slightly disjointed feeling to the film as a whole. Some punches were pulled I felt.
Perhaps it was too early to make this film as Bush was still president at the time?
Having said that Brolin is fantastic in the lead and channelled Bush as a person rather than a characature which wasn't an easy thing to do. But I think the oscar nod should go to Dreyfuss for best supporting actor, for his outstanding portrayal of the enigma that is Dick Cheney. At times resembling him so much physically, he had just the right nuance of subtle menace and glimpses of possible insanity presented with a thick veneer of seeming normality that it was never overdone. Definitely Dreyfus's best performance to date.
on 16 August 2015
-W. is a 2008 American biographical drama film loosely based on the life and presidency of George W. Bush. It was produced and directed by Oliver Stone, written by Stanley Weiser, and stars Josh Brolin as Bush, with a supporting cast that includes Ellen Burstyn, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Scott Glenn, and Richard Dreyfuss. Filming began on May 12, 2008, in Louisiana and the film was released on October 17.
-W was Oliver Stone's third film in a trilogy he made about the Presidency, set in the time from the 1960s to today: the set began with JFK and continued with Nixon.
W. received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes reports 59% of critics giving the film positive write-ups, based upon a sample of 212, with an average score of 6/10, compared to audiences giving a 42% positive review (3/5) based on 109,205 ratings. The website summarized the reviews of the film by calling it "A surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of the 43rd American president, W. is fascinating in spots, but merely rudimentary as a whole." At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 56, based on 36 reviews.
Giving the film four stars in his review, Roger Ebert wrote that it was "fascinating" and praised all the actors, noting that Richard Dreyfuss, in particular, was "not so much a double as an embodiment" of Dick Cheney. In contrast, Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post called the film "a rushed, wildly uneven, tonally jumbled caricature." Film critic James Berardinelli negatively compared the film with Saturday Night Live skits, saying of the actors that "None of them are as dead-on as Tina Fey as Sarah Palin."
The Bush administration never officially commented on the film. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is portrayed in the film, called the sibling rivalry portrayed in the film "high-grade, unadulterated hooey" and said that Stone's exploration of the family dynamic could have benefited from actual conversations with the Bush family. Slate Magazine 's Timothy Noah, however, noted that "most [of] the film's more ludicrous details" are actually directly taken from non-fiction sources, and argued that the film was too kind to Bush in omitting certain historically recorded dramatic events, most notably Bush's alleged mocking of murderer Karla Faye Tucker, a woman put to death during his tenure of the Texan governorship. However, the incident is disputed by Bush himself, and as such is also unconfirmed. In a March 2010 "Screen Test" interview with The New York Times ' Lynne Hirschberg, Josh Brolin claims Bush did in fact watch the film. Brolin said Oliver Stone met with Bill Clinton in China and Clinton told Stone he'd lent his copy of W. to Bush. Reportedly, Bush himself "liked it very much" and "thought there were sad moments.”
The film appeared on some critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008. Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News named it the eighth best film of 2008, and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times named it on his top 20 list (he did not assign rankings).
Newton's performance as Condoleeza Rice was criticised as 'awful."
on 11 April 2010
Well, I'm afraid the movie is no better than the man it portrays. The highlight is Brolin's excellent impersonation of Bush, his mannerisms and bumbles. Unfortunately, this also made it difficult to take the story serious, as it felt like watching a Spitting Image satire. The grave nature of the outcomes of war during this period called for a powerful telling of the story of the man, but instead we got something light and unsatisfying. Stone did throw a few things in to generate controversy and ratings: Cheney on the Iraq exit strategy (to paraphrase): "We don't need one; we're there forever to control the oil."
Not recommended unless for a laugh at Brolin's impersonation.
on 20 October 2013
A great behing-the-scenes look at the factors that made this man to be rated "the third worst President in American history", according to various historians.
We come away from this film feeling that this man, while clearly unable to deal with the demands of such a strenuous job, was set up by his family and others to have a poor self-confidence, leading to a failed life both before his presidency and in the job itself.
Although we chuckle at his lack of knowlege and "Bushisms" at time, there is a certain sadness (and scariness) at seeing a grown man in the most powerful job in the world being manipulated by others or totally clueless as to how to solve a problem when utilizing his particularly brand of logic.
Josh Brolin is so good as Bush he seems to be the real thing. His performance adds greatly to the impact of the film.
on 24 April 2010
Everything is in the title of the review: this film is not enough funny to be a comedy, not interesting or insightful enough to be a history review, it feels too much like a collection of youtbube clips of Bushisms all brought together in one.
Dont waste your money